In eight games for the Arizona Cardinals after being traded to the desert from the Miami Dolphins, running back Kenyan Drake assimilated into a new scheme as smoothly as he could have hoped. Entering his first full season with the franchise and the second alongside quarterback Kyler Murray and under the direction of head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Drake intends on becoming a more well-rounded version of himself.
That extends beyond the rushing game. In fact, Drake is potentially putting an equal, if not greater, emphasis on becoming more of a receiving threat. Last season, Drake recorded 28 receptions for 171 yards (6.1 per catch) with a long of 21 yards.
"That's what the game is coming to nowadays, especially in 2020," Drake told reporters after practice Monday. "If you look around the league from an offensive standpoint, especially from a defensive standpoint in terms of players' bodies and how they are used to defend; linebackers are getting smaller, more quicker to defend against receiving threats out the backfield like myself or anybody else. You see guys like (Carolina Panthers running back) Christian McCaffrey catching the ball and doing 1,000 receiving, 1,000 rushing.
"I feel like, not necessarily that specific stat will become more known, but players that have that ability to be versatile out of the backfield and be able to run the ball up the middle are going to be more common in this game. I'm the type of person that always felt like my game was that type of game, so I just look forward to be able to get the ball in those situations and make the most of it."
With the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals' receiving corps is stacked with talent from top to bottom. If Drake is able to develop even further in that part of his game, Murray has the chance to lead Arizona's offense to elevated heights.
If the franchise wants to win more than five games this season, Arizona will need increased scoring production, especially in the red zone.
"I feel like Coach Kingsbury is going to, like I alluded to before, put his skill-position players in the best position to make plays," Drake said. "Obviously, with receiving threats out wide like (wide receiver Christian) Kirk, [Hopkins], obviously [wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald] doing his thing for a 17th year, the tight ends we have are vertical threats. Kyler, obviously being a threat in his own right and the running back room as well. I just feel like you can't really match up or attend more than one person to any specific guy because another the person could be in a single matchup and make the most of that.
"I feel like a lot of teams are going to probably try to zone us or either man us up straight up and try to play defense. And we've got to go out there and make the plays when they're there. And I look forward to continuing to see myself and the rest of my teammates go out there and do exactly what we're supposed to do."